R.B, Maître Sabreur, explains us how to saber a Champagne Bottle.
FD : How did you come about your vocation as a Maître Sabreur ?
I was fascinated about sabrage 6 years ago in Maldives for the first time. During a special aperitif on the overwater restaurant the resort’s sommelier performed a sabrage sorrounded by an amazing Maldivian sunset panorama. That was the time. There I decided I should have become a Sabreur.
FD : How did you learn the art of sabrage ?
When I came back home after my first holidays in Maldives I began to read about traditional method with particular care about Champagne (methode Champenoise), about the production of the glass bottles to contain sparkling wines and about the art of sabrage with its origines and traditions. I paired the tasting of Champagne bottles to new sabrages to improve the technique and the style.
FD : What’s your favorite brand of Champagne ?
This is a very difficult question…Trying to give you an answer I have to divide the great and famous Maisons from the small producers (recoltant manipulant). Among the brands, my favorite non-vintage champagnes definitely are the “Special Cuvée” by Bollinger and the “Extra Cuvée de Reserve” by Pol Roger. They have the power of pinot noir that I love and the imprinting of reserve wines. Remaining in the great Maisons, I would have a great list of favorites about vintage champagne. Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill again by Pol Roger is maybe my favorite cuvée prestige; then I would name Krug Vintages, Salon, Bollinger R.D. and Dom Ruinart.
Among the small growers we have so many possibilities to taste very value-for-money champagnes! I name “La Closerie” by Jerome Prevost and “Version Originale” by Jacques Selosse as my favorite non Vintages, “Les Chétillon Millesime” by Pierre Peters and “Fût de Chêne” by Henri Giraud as my favorite vintages champagne.
FD : Can anybody slice the cork off a champagne bottle ?
Theoretically anybody could…but doing this with technique is better! So many variables are contributing in a good sabrage, and, on the other side, many factors can make the sabrage attempt a real disaster! People should remember that sabrage is potentially dangerous and that small pieces of glass will hardly go inside the bottle but will probably go against the skin of the sabreur or his audience if the technique is poor.
After studying about sparkling wines, please don’t look for cheap wines but start your sabrage with traditional method. There, you have a good carbon dioxide pressure inside the bottle that is a good starting point for a good sabrage.
FD : How should we savour a good champagne? How do you recommend serving it ?
My first rule is to take time for enjoying champagne. Don’t be in a hurry, please ! Every bottle of Champagne is a moment of celebration and this is why I try to pair every bottle drunken to a sabrage. This is the way to make every bottle unique and to remember the experience of enjoying and the people with me during the tasting.
My recommendation is different on the basis of the Champagne. If we taste an “easy” champagne, without particular power, nor many years of fermentation on the yeasts, maybe it could be served very cold (3-4°C), even in a narrow glass. But, if we are approaching to a great vintage bottle, I believe it should be served in a larger glass, at about 8°C. The first tasting allow us to discover the champagne for the first time, but if we have time to wait for a while and make the Champagne being warmer in our glass secondary and tertiary flavours will come up and we will have the experiences of smoked flavours, of brioches, licorice, vanilla, and so on…
FD : What do other people think about your job ? What would you be doing if you weren’t a Maître Sabreur ?
Every time people discover sabrage for the first time they are very fascinated about it. They smile and they remain astonished. At this point they make the choice: to begin sabrage or to keep watching about it without trying cause they are afraid. Maybe sometimes they make the good choice because I often see some young guys performing sabrage without experience…this is a great risk for them !
FD : Would you consider your job rare or is it more common than we think ?
My job as sabreur is surely rare. Not so many people are recognized sabreurs. The majority of them just try and go for it maybe successfully but without a background. I believe that to be a great sabreur one should love champagne first of all.
FD : How would you define “luxury” ?
Luxury for me is the chance to enjoy what you love when you want together with people you love. Not so many people are able to experience what luxury is in my point of view. Surely an ambitious person can create his luxury and try to get luxury in the more contexts as possible. Definitely I can say that I got my concept of luxury with Champagne, I mean I can have the bottle of Champagne I like more when I want with my love or my friends…and saber it!
How to saber Champagne ?